Mary Schapiro unveiled yesterday the new name it has selected for the new NASD/NYSE regulatory combo: SIRA, which stands for Securities Industry Regulatory Authority, but sounds a little bit more like some ugly winged creature out of Dungeons & Dragons. Taken together with the SIA’s recent merger-induced name change to SIFMA (which sounds more like an affliction) securities industry organizations are on an acronym-picking roll. Not.
“The new name wasn’t my first choice,” admitted Schapiro to the audience at the Exchequer Club in D.C. “I wanted the name to be Vanguard. What a perfect name for a regulator—‘the Vanguard of investor protection, at the vanguard of regulatory innovation.’ That has a nice ring to it.”
Alas, Vanguard, joked Schapiro, is already in use at a “small mutual fund company that refused to give it up.”
So, SIRA it is. The new organization will have 3,000 staff and be the largest self-regulatory organization in the world. But Schapiro intends for the new behemoth to be the foundation for a more streamlined and effective regulatory approach for the entire securities industry. Besides a commitment to “reducing regulatory costs for all firms” while “providing more effective protection” for millions of investors, she fully expects SIRA can make regulation “as flexible and innovative as the markets we regulate.”In that regard, Schapiro spoke of “exploring” what a more principles-based approach to regulation—like the U.K. uses—would bring to our securities industry. She emphasized one of the ideas was to become a more proactive regulator, as opposed to reactive. However, she quickly added, “We’re not going to throw out the rulebook and simply rely on principles to guide firms.” She also referred to changing the current “one-size-fits-all” rulemaking procedure in favor of tiered regulation based on firm size and business model, something she says will be helped as the NYSE and NASD merge their rulebooks.